Archive - 2007

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January 29th

Tea stops

The best cyclists' cafe I ever visited was at Elsdon in Northumberland. The cafe was an old house on a village green, which had about thirty bikes parked outside. Inside, the admosphere was definitely communal. We sat at long tables on bench seats and the owners kept bringing large pots of tea, which they placed on the tables for all to help themselves to unlimited quantities. There were posters on the wall depicting cycling greats alongside adverts for local cycle races. The fare was was simple - beans on toast and the like - and cheap - apple pie and custard was 55 pence. Payment was made on an honesty principle - you totted up what you'd spent and you gave the money to the owner.

I've no idea if this place is still going - I hope so, but I doubt it*. It seemed a bit of a relic from the past - a wonderful place and a memorable experience. But the reality for most cyclists, especially around the Midlands, is that such places, sadly, no longer exist.

It's not all bad news, though. There are still plenty of cafes out there and it seems that new ones are popping up all the time, especially in garden centres and craft centres. But we have to face the reality that these places are different from those of yesteryear and I think cyclists need to approach these places differently. Here's my list of things to avoid:

  • Large groups of cyclists turning up unannounced can create a serious problem for the owners of small cafes. The staff can't cope and there's no room for the regular customers.
  • Asking for separate bills is a major annoyance.
  • Turning up in "gob" order, plastered with mud, might be construed as lowering the tone of the place. Spreading your soggy clothes out to dry makes things worse.
  • Leaning your bikes on the plate glass window often makes proprietors nervous and is all the more annoying if they obscure the tastefully arranged window display.
  • Many cafes have a lucrative lunch trade, so occupying tables around lunchtime while you sip your tea is costing the owner money.

Here's a list of the tea stops that we currently use, some frequently, others infrequently. Some details are sketchy but we'll add more information the next time we visit each place.

Steve Lockwood

(* Actually some searches on the web indicate that it's still going - it's called the Impromptu Café.  Hurrah!)

Download a map of tea places for Google Earth.


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Destination Remarks
Bewdley
Bidford - Bickmarsh Airfield Tea, cakes and hot snacks. The cakes weren't home made but the tea was cheap and the sausage sandwich excellent.
Bridgnorth
Broadheath - Laylocks Good range of fare in garden centre café.
Broadway - Rendezvous Popular with tourists in Broadway town centre. So popular that the staff sometimes have trouble keeping up!
Bromyard Small, friendly cafe in town
Chipping Camden - Bantam Tearoom Pleasant tearoom in picturesque village. Decent pot of tea, good cakes, fruit cake especially.
Clee Hill - Craven Place Café Small café on edge of village. Good views, decent fare.
Dunnington - Hillers Large groups arriving near lunchtime may have a problem.
Evesham - Butlers Cheap and clean - tables and chairs fixed to floor, though.
Evesham - Riverside Popular fisherman's café. Mugs of tea, big breakfasts, bread pudding - that sort of stuff.
Fladbury - Craycombe House Tea, cakes, leather chairs - welcoming to cyclists.
Great Witley - Villa Fiore Idyllic location next to Witley Court. Accessible by very bumpy track. Closed during the colder months.
Holt Heath - Bramleys Small tearoom in garden centre. Tea, good cakes. Large groups of cyclists turning up unannounced have caused the staff some annoyance.
Kenilworth
Kineton  Pleasant cafe in the town -tea, cakes, sandwiches etc
Kinver - Maori Tearoom Tea, cakes, hot snacks. Friendly and very popular with cyclists.
Lavender Farm - Near Broadway CLOSED AT TIME OF WRITING (11-9-2008)
Leamington Spa Pump House Tearooms
Leamington Spa
Converted Aviary in the park
Ledbury
Malvern - St Anne's Well Very low gears needed to reach this café.
Malvern - The Kettle Sings You might feel that the price has been slightly increased because of the brilliant views. But how many caf├ęs are within reach of Brum and give you a view of Hay Bluff?
Mappleborough Green - Hilliers Large café in garden centre. It's not obvious from the outside that there is a café. Good range of fare on offer.
Moreton in Marsh
Norton - Garden Centre Large café in garden centre. Tea, cakes, breakfasts, sandwiches etc.
Pershore, Abbey Tea Rooms
Proper tea that has to be strained.  Also some rather delicious cakes as well as more substantial fare.
Six Ashes Cafe and Tea Rooms
Stourport - Goodnight Sweetheart
Early 20th century themed cafe. Cakes, baguettes and full English breakfasts at reasonable cost.
Stow on the Wold
Stratford-upon-Avon - Cox's Yard Pleasantly-situtated on the banks of the Avon.
Stratford-upon-Avon - Hathaway Tearoom Pleasant and welcoming. Bikes may be parked away from the street in the back garden (you have to ask for the gate to be opened).
Tewkesbury
Upton-on-Severn - Marina Proper breakfasts in smart surroundings at a reasonable price.
Upton-on-Severn - Pepperpot
Warwick - Lord Leicester Olde Worlde tearoom in ancient military museum.  Accessible from rear (Brook St) without need to pay admission to museum.
Warwick - The Tuckery Good value breakfasts.
Wellesbourne - Airfield Busy café, popular with fliers and bikers (motorised and human powered). Can be busy but good range of fare at reasonable prices.
Wellesbourne - Watermill May not be open if there is an R in the month. If open, worth a visit.
Winchcombe
Wooton Wawen - Heron's Nest - Yew Tree Farm Warm and welcoming - good breakfasts. 
Worcester - Charlies Near Commandery Museum on south side of City Centre.  Good breakfasts and sandwiches. 
Worcester - Poppins "Favourite Five" breakfast is a good bet
Wyre Forest Visitor Centre Comfortable cafe, serves tea, cakes, breakfasts etc.